John Mack — 2 February 2016

We almost exclusively travel the back roads and tracks as we move around the country. We are fortunate, being retired we have no time frames or other pressures to get to the next destination and can therefore take our time. 

Although I don’t think the time frame between A and B makes a lot of difference whichever way you choose. Many travellers in the same situation seem to prefer sticking to the major highways and I have looked at the differences and still come out in favour of the country routes. What travel routes do you prefer?

So what are the major differences?

Country routes are:

  • Much more pleasant to travel, quieter, less traffic and fewer trucks.
  • Can involve more distance between A and B compared to the major highways.
  • More and better opportunities for overnight stops, lunch stops and far more scenic than the major highways, plus more farm stalls.
  • Clean air.
  • Birdsong rather than the growls of the heavy diesels at wake-up time.
  • Generally slower speeds, therefore less fuel consumption, but this can be offset by longer trips.
  • Recognised free camps much cleaner than those close to the major highways.
  • We have found many country roads are in good condition and have very little traffic. Even the gravelled roads are often in excellent condition.
  • You rarely see “hoon” behaviour.

So why use the major highways?

You may be pushed for time and believe that you must minimise the distance and use the “bes” roads to shorten the travel time. I know many people that will push 500-600 k a day in order to achieve this. A risky strategy IMHO.

The roads “may” be perceived as better on the highways but there are far more irritations like roadworks, temporary speed limits and various authorities checking speeds and other compliance issues.

The driving is definitely less comfortable than quietly cruising the back roads.

Our tips for travelling the back roads:

Slow down, chill and enjoy the drive, explore interesting side tracks if you have time.

Run the UHF on Scan mode. This will pick up the channels that the country/farming properties are using to keep in touch. A useful resource in the event of a problem but also good to find out if 1080 baits have been laid or even possible stopping spots. We have found some great camp sites this way.

Take frequent breaks to enjoy the scenic spots.

If an opportunity arises, chat to the locals as they are usually very friendly if they sense you are interested and are a great source of information.

Country hospitality is the best; a typical example is we were parked on the lovely showgrounds in a small village in central NSW, the only van there. After a couple of days we were supporting the local coffee shop and reading the papers when we were approached by a lady who introduced herself. 

She enquired if we were the couple staying at the showgrounds over this Christmas period. After a short chat she invited us to join here and her husband to Christmas lunch at her house. How nice is that?!

And unlikely to happen on the major road routes.


driving highways


John Mack